“The first rule of ecology is that small shifts beget big change. Everything is connected.” So teaches Nathan Kohn.
And so unfolds the story of a college teacher of aquatic/environmental studies and his student. What is special here is how the author weaves in Nathan’s work and his Jewish background giving his character depth and color. The fact that Isaac, his undergrad student, comes from the same background completes the strong thread that runs through this story. Also welcome is that these two were able to (mostly) respect the teacher/student relationship in their deepening attraction to each other. They have bigger issues to tackle. Nathan must find a way to live with Isaac’s past, taking a big step towards building something together.
I greatly enjoyed this quiet, gentle story though it took a little getting used to the delivery. While Nathan’s first-person point of view is a bit risky -- it is simple and straightforward and he can come across as a bit cold or analytical -- in the end it worked for me. He is, after all, a scientist and a quantitative thinker and it was really in keeping with the character of the story. There were a couple of abrupt transitions between scene changes but nothing too serious. There really isn’t a lot of angst here and what there is seems invented. When Nathan forces Isaac to go dancing at a bar where they encounter some of Isaac’s past sex clients, Nathan ends up picking a fight with Isaac that makes him come off as a putz. Of course he sees the error of his ways, Isaac is a sweet boy after all who had to make hard decisions. Little steps, though. And big changes. It’s all connected, it’s all good.